Beechholme memorial plaque
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MANNING, George William 

Private 53729, 2nd/5th Manchester Regiment


Died of Wounds on 28th July 1918


Son of Mrs E.P. Bramwhite of 21, Bygrave Road, Baldoc, Herts.



George William Manning’s birth was registered in the September quarter of 1898 in the registration district of Kensington. He was the oldest child born to William Henry Manning and Emily nee Cole. The couple had at least four children. George’s father was employed as a gas fitter.


On the 1901 census the family are residing at 99, Peel Street in Kensington. George is aged two and his younger brother Reginald is aged eight months.

By the next census the circumstances of the family have changed for the worse. George’s father is in the Kensington Infirmary and he would die shortly after the census was taken. George's date of his admission to the school is unknown but at the age of twelve he is resident in Beechholme along with Reginald and one other brother born in 1903. George’s mother is living in Kensington sharing with another family along with her young daughter of one year.


George enlisted in Mill Hill. Unfortunately we don’t know the year as no service records survive for him. His medal index card doesn’t state his date of entry or his qualifying date but because he was only entitled to the Victory and British War medals he would not have joined until 1916 and  his age would have prevented him from serving overseas earlier. (Although this wasn’t always the case)

George’s mother remarried in 1916 to Samuel Bramwhite.


The 2nd/5th Manchester regiment were a territorial force and the designation of 2/5th means that they were the second line unit raised to that particular battalion.

They were formed at Wigan during September 1914 and in November of that year became part of the 199th Brigade in the 66th Division. They trained at Southport until May 1915 and then moved to Crowborough, Cuckfield and Peasepottage in Sussex. In March 1916 they moved to Colchester and from there left for France in March 1917. They saw active service on the Western Front and were involved in action on the Flanders coast in the 3rd Battle of Ypres commonly known as Passchendaele. Whereas the first and second battles of Ypres were launched by the Germans in 1914 and 1915 respectively, the third battle of Ypres was intended as Sir Douglas Haig’s Allied forces breakthrough in Flanders in 1917.

Meticulously planned, Third Ypres was launched on 31st of July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on the 6th of November. The offensive resulted in gains for the Allies but was by no means the breakthrough intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. This was the final great battle of attrition of the war.

As was the norm for any major Allied offensive, on the 18th of July a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment was effected for ten days prior to the launch of the attack at 03.50 on the 31st of July. The bombardment made use of 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells. Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected an imminent offensive; the element of surprise was entirely absent.


Thus when  the attack was launched across an 18 kilometre front the Fourth Army was in place to hold off the main British advance around the Menin Road and restricted the Allies to fairly small gains to the left of the line around Pilckem Ridge. British attempts to renew the offensive over the course of the next few days were severely hampered by the onset of heavy rain, the heaviest in 30 years, which churned the Flanders lowland soil into a thick muddy swamp. Tanks found themselves immobile, stuck fast in the mud. Similarly the infantry found their mobility severely limited. Ironically the very force of the preliminary bombardment had itself destroyed drainage systems, exacerbating the problem.  In addition, the artillery shells that had rained down in the days prior to the attack’s launch had peppered the very ground that needed to be traversed by the advancing Allied Forces.

As a consequence no renewed major offensive could be contemplated until 16th of August, when the Battle of Langemarck saw four days of heavy fighting which resulted in small gains for the British, but heavy casualties. The attacks began afresh on the 20th of September with the Battle of the Menin Road Bridge. This was followed by the Battle of Polygon Wood on the 26th September and the Battle of Broodseinde on the 4th of October. Taken together these established British possession of the ridge east of Ypres. Little progress was made at the Battle of Poelcapelle and the 1st Battle of Passchendaele on the 9th and 12th of October respectively.


War Diary entry of the 2nd/5th Manchester Regiment:


Oct1st-2nd 1917. TOURS. WARDRECQUES. “ Training new formations for attack over shell hole areas.”

3rd-4th. “Battalion moved to BRANDHOEK area”

4th-11th “About 7pm moved forward to take over the British Front Line held by 11th Australian Brigade N.W of ZONEBEKE.”

“ On evening of the 10th Battalion was relieved by 43rd Australian Infantry and commenced moving out of the line. The Battalion arrived at ST LAWRENCE CAMP about 6pm on the 11th. During this time owing to the shelled nature of the ground, the wet weather and dark nights, moving about was very difficult. Enemy artillery did a great deal of shelling and on several occasions put down heavy barrage on our positions. Casualties were fairly numerous. Rations and water were got up with difficulty.”

Oct 13th. “ The battalion moved to RENESCURE AREA and billeted in ARQUES.”


 Casualties 30 killed

                 94 wounded

                 17 missing


Because the war diary is so precise in its listing of casualty figures throughout the years of 1917 and 1918 and the fact that there isn’t any mention of any soldiers missing after the above date in October 1917, we have to assume that George had been wounded and taken prisoner somewhere around the 9th of October. The fact that he is buried in Cologne cemetery also bears this out. More than 1,000 Allied prisoners were buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery during the First World War.


Between the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the Armistice of November 1918, the German forces captured about 300,000 Commonwealth servicemen on the Western Front. Approximately one third of these prisoners were held in German occupied territory in France or Belgium. Prisoners of war had been granted certain rights under international agreements established at Geneva in 1864 and The Hague in 1899 and 1907. The Red Cross monitored the conditions and welfare of these men. Some of the men were badly wounded when taken prisoner and died shortly after arriving in Germany. Some prisoners also died as a result of violence perpetrated by their captors. As many as 12,000 died whilst in captivity.

It can only be assumed from the records that are available that George died in captivity some ten months after initially being wounded.


George's mother and brother were legatees..



GRAVE REF :- Cologne Southern Cemetery. XIV.F.13.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long,Long Trail, The Third Battle of Ypres-First World,
                    War Diary courtesy of National Archives- WO/95/3144/6

Last updated: 16 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial


Private 3/1542

1st Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Killed In Action 25th April 1915

Age 26.

Husband of Ada James (formerly Mayor) of 19 Belmont Street, Streethouse, Pontefract

John Mayor was born in 1888 in Kensington and according to Poor Law records was illegitimate.
His mother's name was Emma and she had deserted, her whereabouts being unknown. His next of kin was given as his maternal grandmother of 155, Southam Street.

In 1891 John aged four is a patient in Marloes Road, Kensington, within the Kensington Infirmary. He was admitted to Beechholme on the 6th of April 1892.

John was discharged to service on the 30th of December 1901 aged fourteen. A repor5t following a visit made on September 8th 1902 to his employer, Mr Sheard of 1, Gatehouse Street, Thornton Brig, Brighouse, states " Employed at Low Moor coalmine. This boy is well and looks quite happy. They have no complaints to make concerning him and he is working in the pit. The boys in the house go to church and Sunday School every Sunday."

A further visit in 1906 when John was eighteen states "This lad behaves himself very well. He is employed with a gang of men clearing the roads near the mine."

In 1910 John marries Ada Tipling in Wakefield on the 26th December at All Saints church in Normanton. John is aged 22 and his occupation is given as a miner. There is no father's name on the marriage certificate. His bride is aged twenty-one.

By 1911 John and his wife are living with his wife's parents at 17, Belmont Street, Streethouse, Pontefract. They have one child Minnie aged one. John's occupation is given as coal miner labourer below ground. His father-in-law was also a miner.

One further child Annie is born in 1914.

Mining was very dangerous and hard work and perhaps John enlisted in the mistaken belief that life as a soldier fighting for his country would not be quite so hazardous. He enlisted in Pontefract.

The 1st Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry landed at Le Havre on the 16th January 1915 as part of the 28th Division of the 83rd Infantry Brigade.The regiment found themselves fighting on the Ypres Salient and would have taken part in the attack on Hill 60 and the 2nd Battle of Ypres which included the attack on St. Julian in early 1915.

Early 1915 marked the beginning of trench warfare with both sides assessing their options for bringing the war to a successful conclusion. It was also the debut of the use of lethal chlorine gas.

At around 5.00pm on April 22nd 1915 the Germans began releasing the gas towards the French troops at Gravenstafel. The troops were totally unprepared for such an attack and began retreating as their comrades were blinded or collapsed from asphyxiation. A huge gap of around 8,00 yards opened in the Allies lines as around 6,000 French soldiers died from gas related causes. The Germans moving forward entered the allies lines but their progress was slowed by darkness and lack of reserve power .

The 1st Canadian Division counter attacked at Kitchener's Wood around 11.00pm and in a brutal battle they succeeded in reclaiming the area from the Germans but sustained high casualties. Continuing pressure on the northern part of the Ypres Salient the Germans released another gas attack on the morning of the 24th April as part of an effort to take St Julien. The Canadian lines broke allowing German troops to take the village.

The following day, the 25th April , the York and Durham brigade units counter attacked, failing to secure their objectives but establishing a new line close to the village. It was on this day that John Mayor was killed.

The third day of the battle saw the brigade forced back with the loss of more than 1,900 men and 40 officers, some two thirds of its strength.

Grave Ref : Panel 47


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- - Military History, Commonwealth War Graves Commission,, Find My Past,
The Long ,Long Trail part of the Great War Forum, Wikepedia.
Map courtesy of WW1 Battles by Julia Marshall. Copyright to be checked (to be added)

Last updated 16 Feb 2017

Additional Note:

It seems strange that some of these Beechholme lads from the south of England enlisted into "strange" regiments like the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and East Lancashires etc. John Mayor's information from the Poor Law records shows why.

The Board of Guardians had contacts all over the country and children were sent far and wide, some as far as Canada.
The records show that some children like John were employed up north in coal mining. It ppears therefore that if they weren't sent straight into the army as a band member they were employed by other means, and when war broke out, whether they volunteered or were conscripted, the regiment they enlisted with would be near to where they were living.

Beechholme WWI memorial




(Probably the JH MILLS on Second Boer War Panel )


To date we have been unable to positively identify this man.

If you have any information, please do contact us.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton


Beechholme WWI memorial

MOXON, Richard Charles ( Actually born as Charles Richard Moxon )

Rifleman 9337

3rd Royal Irish Rifles

Died August the 19th 1916 in the Union Infirmary Kingston of Tuberculosis aged 22 .

Although this man was born as Charles Richard Moxon 1894 in Chelsea, on all documents pertaining to him afterwards he is always known as Richard. He was the son of Richard and Catherine, or Kate as she was often called, nee Gregory. On the couple’s marriage entry of 1893 the father’s occupation, barely legible, looks like 'inn porter'.

Poor Law records show that  Richard was admitted to the workhouse on the 3rd of August 1897 and from there was sent to Beechholme on the 29th of April 1898. His father had deserted the family. Their previous address had been 25, Burnaby Street. Richard's mother was in the workhouse at this time.

In 1901 aged 6 Richard is resident at Beecholme along with a sister Ellen aged 5. He was resident there for thirteen years according to his army records.

His father is living at 541 Kings Road Chelsea where he is described as being a lodger, single, aged 29 and a coal porter. Richard's father was a patient in Cane Hill Asylum, Coulsdon in 1906 and he died there the same year aged thirty five.

Richard’s mother cannot be traced in 1901 but by 1911 she was once again in the Chelsea Workhouse where her occupation is given as a tailor and it is noted that she is deaf and dumb and has been since birth. She is described as being a widow and also in the same workhouse is her mother-in-law.

Richard himself by 1911 is at the Citadel Barracks, Western Heights in Dover and is described as being a boy musician with the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles. He is aged 16. He was a Bandsman for five years according to his army papers.

There is no Commonwealth War Graves citation for this man. His medal index card reveals that his qualifying date was the 6th of November 1914. His rank is given as rifleman.

From his pension records a sad story emerges.

At enlistment on the 16th October 1909 aged 15 Richard is described as being 4 feet 5 inches tall only, and having grey eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. He weighed one hundred and sixty one pounds.

His pension records reveal that he was part of the British Expeditionary Force and as such saw some overseas service as a Rifleman with “ A” Company of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles. His next of kin is given as his mother Kate in the Chelsea Workhouse and a younger brother George who was resident in Beechholme at this time. It states that he was educated at the Banstead School and had served four months in India prior to returning to England in 1914 to join the British Expeditionary Force. Richard had two short spells of hospitalization for debility during this year.

In 1915 the Battle of Neuve Chapelle took place between the 10th and the 13th March . This was in the Artois region of France. The battle of Neuve Chapelle was the first British set-piece attack of the war . Neuve Chapelle is a small village located roughly midway between Bethune and Lille and around 20 miles south of Ypres.. The objective of the attack was to initially capture the German lines in the German Salient, then the village itself and then drive through onto the nearby Aubers Ridge where the high ground had the usual strategic value. Although the Germans were initially taken by surprise, the initial bombardment had not been effective in some areas and the Germans were able to mount a counter attack . The casualty figures for the British were around 3,500 killed and 8,500 wounded.

It was during this counter attack that Richard sustained a gunshot wound . The bullet passed through his left leg a little below the knee joint fracturing both bones. Acute sepsis followed and he was transferred to the Castle Hospital in Dublin for treatment. Free incisions were made in the knee to drain the infection. He spent nine months in hospital and was transferred to Beggars Bush Barracks in Dublin and he was then transferred into the 3rd battalion for possible home service. It was while here awaiting a medical board hearing that he noticed he was losing weight and complained of chest pains and night sweats. A sputum analysis was positive for tuberculosis. He was also found to be anaemic.

The medical board found that Richard was unfit for further service abroad and decreed that the tuberculosis was as a result of active service aggravated by the climate.

As regards his leg wound the board found the leg to be weak with a deformity .

He was therefore officially discharged from the British Army on the 27th of March 1916 with total incapacity and a pension of 25 shillings per week. His occupation was given as a musician and his address was 44, Lenelby Road, Tolworth. His description from his discharge form shows a deterioration in his appearance from the original form. He now measures 5 feet 6 inches in height but his complexion is now described as sallow. No weight is recorded.

Richard died on the 19th of August 1916 at the Union Infirmary, Kingston. The cause of death is given as pulmonary tuberculosis. He was aged 22 and living at Lenelby Road Tolworth and his occupation was given as Rifleman, Royal Irish Rifles (Pensioner) The informant is given as being Jean Dawes Clark of the same address in Tolworth and she is described as being an aunt but there doesn’t appear to be a family connection.

Originally uncommemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Richard's name has now been added to their site and the Commission intends to erect a special memorial in St. Mary's churchyard Long Ditton where he is buried.

Richard is buried in St Mary Churchyard,Long Ditton ref 3833/1/27.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Death Certificate courtesy of General Register Office DYD 609762, World War One Battlefields,,
Find My Past, The Long ,Long Trail part of the Great War Forum.

Beechholme WWI memorial